What is the Induction of Labor?
Induction is the forced initiation of labor through synthetic oxytocin.
One in five hospital births are reported as induced labors.
In 1999, the Green Journal review reported three out of four inductions were elective, meaning they are requested by the mother. That means 75% of all induced labors are not for medical reasons. Research shows there an increase of cesarean section rates for induced patients.
One can be induced by a synthetic oxytocin such as Pitocin, by a practitioner breaking your bag of waters, a gel, or other natural methods such as acupuncture, acupressure, blue/black kohash and by drinking castor oil.
The most common drug used to induce labor is Pitocin.
Pitocin plays a factor in about 60% of labors today. It is commonly administered through IV drip which contains women to the hospital bed (no showers/baths or walking around). Through iv, the amount of Pitocin entering your blood stream can be increased and decreased.
Pitocin causes contractions to become stronger and closer together. The increased intensity of contractions may lead to the use of epidural aesthesia and/or cesarean section.
“Think of the dichotomy: pitocin is administered to speed up labor, but the increased level of pain requires medication that slows it down. In addition, pitocin often has no effect on cervical dilation even though the contractions are much stronger.” – Amy Kreger, Associated Content
Elective Induction, Medical Induction & Augmentation
Medical induction is used when the birth of the baby is considered necessary for the health and well being of mother and child.
Reasons for medical induction include fetal distress, pre-clampsia, and uterine infection.
For instance, if a woman’s water has broken, induction with induction may be recommended after 12 hours if labor has begun. With home birth midwives, 24-48 hours is the recommended window including supervising mom and baby’s vitals (blood-pressure, heart-rate, fever).
Another reason for medical induction may be if baby is past due (between 40-42 weeks or more). This increases complications due to baby’s size in the uterus, placenta calcification, and increases the risk of stillborn.
Elective induction is the induction of labor with no medical indication to do so, but by choice, commonly referred to as “scheduling” birth.
*please note: the Pitocin label reads…”Pitocin is not indicated for elective induction of labor.”
Augmentation is a term used to speed up labor once contractions have begun naturally. Again, Pitocin is widely used to augment labor.
“Your practitioner will start you off with a small dose (of Pitocin) and gradually increase it until your uterus responds appropriately. How much you’ll need depends on the quality of your contractions so far, how sensitive your uterus is to the drug, how much your cervix is dilated, and how far along you are in your pregnancy. As a rule, you’re shooting for three to five contractions every ten minutes.” – Ann Linden, CNM – Baby Center
Induction with the help of Pitocin may start, speed up and intensify labor, increasing the chance that pain medication might be used.
The use of forceps and vacuum assisted deliveries is also increased.
Additionally, the rate of cesarean section is also raised by two or three times in the presence of induced labors.
These are some of the risks of Pitocin to Mom as stated on the label:
- Hypertensive episodes
- Uterine rupture
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Pelvic hematoma
- Postpartum hemorrhage
BEWARE of Cytotec! The drug Cytotec has been used to induce labor but is not approved by the FDA for this use. Side effects of the drug include uterine rupture, severe bleeding, hysterectomy, and/or maternal and fetal death.
For baby, Pitocin can cause:
*this is a controversial claim, as some say this drug cannot pass through the placenta
- Neonatal jaundice
- Permanent CNS or brain damage
- Neonatal seizures
- Premature ventricular contractions
If one must induce due to medical reasons, it is my personal advice to suggest natural forms of induction first. Taking a natural remedy is like giving your body a little push or an “encouraging word” as if to say, time to get things going!
Natural forms of induction include:
Acupuncture, Acupressure, Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, Evening Primrose Oil, nipple stimulation, exercise, sex, *Blue Cohosh, and *Castor Oil.
These natural forms of initiating labor call upon the body’s own resources to begin the laboring process. It is, overall, a much safer process with less complication and likelihood of intervention, because the woman’s body and hormones are reacting naturally.
*use only under supervision
See Natural Induction for more information.